23. Reading Skills Comprehension: Caged And Safe Or Wild and Free


The funding crisis at many zoos has reopened the debate over the value of zoos and whether they should be allowed to exist at all.  People who are in favour of zoos argue that they perform an essential role in conserving. – rare animal species. Conservationists estimate that today at least 1,000 species of animals are threatened. Over the past 20 years, zoos have developed programmes designed to help preserve endangered species. This involves breeding animals in captivity in “captive breeding programmes”—and then reintroducing them into their natural habitats to replenish the number living in the wild.

Woburn Abbey, for example, saved a species called Pere David’s deer. The species went largely unrecorded in China from 1920, but a few of the animals were brought to Europe by a French missionary (Father David). Recently Woburn Abbey and other zoos began returning breeding couples of Pere David’s deer to the wild in China. Zoos cooperate with each other in order to ensure the success of their breeding programmes. Animals are passed from one zoo to another in order to prevent inbreeding-15 breeding from closely related animals. If animals that are closely related to one another mate, there is a danger that they will produce deformed offspring. Supporters of zoos argue that they have an important role in educating children, millions of whom visit zoos every year. Television-viewing is no substitute for encountering real animals, they argue. Zoos also carry out important research, for example on the best conditions for rare species to reproduce. If zoos were forced to close it would be disastrous for world conservation, zoo supporters say. And most animals in captivity would have to be killed. “It does not take much imagination to realise that the closure of all zoos would mean the deliberate destruction of wildlife on a scale never before witnessed,” the National Federation of Zoos says.

Opponents of zoos accept that some species have been saved from extinction by “captive breeding programmes”, but they argue that this offers no solution to the worldwide conservation crisis.

The number of animals protected by zoos is tiny compared with the overall problem. It cost millions to save the Arabian Oryx from dying out; but could that amount be found for every species that is endangered? The value of zoo-breeding programmes is also questioned as some species, such as the African elephant, do not reproduce well in captivity.

 Captive animals are often kept in poor and inhumane conditions, opponents say. In the worst zoos, animals are still displayed for the entertainment of the public. Where animals are placed in impoverished and unsuitable surroundings, they often behave in abnormal and neurotic ways. It is common for polar bears constantly to pace up and down or twist their heads and circle over and over again. This behaviour is now recognised by scientists as a sign of stress and frustration.

When children visit zoos where animals are acting in neurotic and abnormal ways, they are not being educated. Instead, opponents say, they are being given an inaccurate picture of animal behaviour. A more precise and informative impression is available to children every day—through wildlife programmes on television.

1.On the basis of your reading of the passage complete the following sentences. Write the answers in the spaces provided.                                                                             

(a) Inbreeding of the animals leads to the birth of

(b) Closing down of the Zoos would result in 

(c) Unhealthy environment in the Zoo leads to

(d) Those who oppose Zoos believe T.V. Wildlife programmes are better because

2.(a) Find a word from (lines 5-10) that means ‘threatened’.

(b) In (line 37) what does ‘This behaviour’ refer to?

(c) Find a word from (lines 30-40) that means `cruel’/`harsh’.

(d) Find a word from (lines 1-10) that means ‘to fill up again’. 


 (a) deformed offspring                     

(b) large-scale destruction of wildlife

(c) stress and abnormal behaviour of captive animals

(d) they give a true picture of animal behaviour and wildlife

2.(a) endangered

(b) the abnormal behaviour of captive animals

(c) inhumane                          

(d) replenish

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